Protecting Your Privacy
If you choose to participate in the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), protecting your privacy will always be a top priority for the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the survey’s managing agency.
NCHS is bound by law to protect your data, following rigorous privacy standards that have protected every NHIS participant since the first survey in 1957. All survey responses are immediately encrypted, with your data stored entirely on secure servers that cannot be accessed through the Internet.
NCHS’ highly trained staff also take the following steps to make sure your information is always confidential and protected:
- All staff must pass rigorous annual training on the required methods for protecting your data.
- All staff must sign a sworn affidavit to protect your privacy. This means it is against the law for staff to share private information. Anyone who shares information about you can be fined up to $250,000, lose their job, and go to jail for up to 5 years.
- All staff must follow privacy and protection laws, including the Privacy Act of 1974 external icon, the Public Health Service Act pdf icon[30 KB], and the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act pdf icon[74 KB]external icon
NCHS combines your data with information from thousands of other survey participants. Combined data are then carefully reviewed to ensure that no information can be linked back to you or any other person or family.
These steps allow NCHS to make important health generalizations about people living in America that are grounded in real-life experiences from survey participants like you. This approach tells us much about the landscape of the nation’s health. For example, because of NHIS, we know that persons without a high school diploma are less likely to have health insurance, men are more likely to smoke than women, obesity is highest among middle-aged adults, and more.
This knowledge is powerful because it raises awareness about needs in health care, including potential aims for research, public policy, and resources.
NHIS has been operating nationally for more than 60 years, and protecting your information and privacy continues to be essential to this survey. The information you provide will only be used for statistical purposes.
For the reasons described here and many more, your confidential participation is incredibly valuable.